The Importance of Being Earnest: Setting and Stage Analysis

Essay by simonkh123High School, 11th grade November 2014

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Simon Kh. Literature Essay

The Importance of Being Earnest: Setting and Stage Analysis

In Oscar Wilde's ostentatious play 'The Importance of Being Earnest', the Victorian setting and the characters' interaction with stage props seem to disclose parts of their personalities and attitudes to the audience. The environment, in which Algernon Moncrieff and Cecily Cardew are situated, is one that impeccably reveals individual values and morals. Considering the scenes of Act I and Act II, Algernon and Cecily incline to show disparate behaviours when they interact with various objects in their environments. For instance, Algernon tends to become indifferent towards others when he has something to consume, and inquisitive when he gets access to other people's possessions. Similarly, Cecily exhibits a libertarian personality and behavior when she is watering the flowers in the garden, and a petulant attitude when she has to study German.

Algernon, the play's secondary protagonist, is a character who reflects his values by interacting with consumable objects.

When Jack first appears on stage in Act I, he stretches out his hand to take a sandwich, but Algernon interferes and announces that cucumber sandwiches are "ordered specially for Aunt Augusta"(page 3), he then takes one sandwich and eats it. In Act II when Jack becomes severely distressed after revealing the truth of his identity to his love Gwendolen Fairfax and to Cecily, Algernon calmly eats muffins; he claims that "one should always eat muffins quite calmly" page 51). In fact, when Jack asks to eat the muffins, Algernon tells him to eat teacake and butter instead. These behaviours displayed by Algernon when he being around food, demonstrate to the audience that he becomes egocentric and insolent towards others when he has food to consume.

Algernon is a character who also explicates an inquisitive, meddlesome and immature behaviour when...